Top two relationships.

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swinneysalmond.jpgOfficially, Nicola Sturgeon is Salmond's #2 as Deputy First Minister, but the reality on the floor of the chamber and elsewhere is that the key relationship is Salmond-Swinney. It was put to me last week that Salmond is better understood as President, with Swinney as his Prime Minister. Maybe that makes Sturgeon Deputy President?

When Swinney took on his gargantuan portfolio in May last there were jokes about it; it's similar the role Wendy and Iain Gray had in 02-03, which the Nats slated as Minister For Everything. Still, much as he's implementing policies on the economy and on transport which I broadly disagree with, no-one's yet suggesting he's not up to the workload. 

The same President/PM comparison used to be made about Blair/Brown, of course. But the difference is the brooding: Swinney's had his shot at the top job, and wasn't great at it. I doubt he wants to go through that again, and in any case, any succession to Salmond would probably see a major battle between Sturgeon, Russell, MacAskill and others.

So the boil has been lanced, and Salmond can look down approvingly from Mount Olympus (Ben Nevis?), knowing his powerful finance secretary isn't sharpening the slide rule. The only other person I can see in a similar position to Swinney in UK politics is William Hague, another who had his shot at glory, who failed, and who subsequently found a leader who understood his talents.

Apologies to both men for comparing them.

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This page was published on June 21, 2008 6:12 PM.

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